This morning I took a class at the Y called Tums, Legs & Buns. The class was taught by Kathy Ross, a highly skilled and gifted teacher. Kathy blends yoga and Pilates with conventional fitness and has always delivered an effective class. It’s been a while since I’ve taken such a class and there was a point or two during the legwork where I couldn’t think of anything except the movement. I think I can safety say that I was completely immersed in the movements! I was in the movement moment!
I doubt I was the only one.
After I got home, I still had little sensation reminders of the class.
I watched Out of Focus, a documentary about Ohad Naharin and his creation GAGA, while I ate lunch. GAGA is an improvisational practice and what I’ve been able to pick up has greatly influenced my dance – and my body. A little later I went through my freedance/improv practice, inviting some of Naharin’s comments to settle in. “Be cool,” he suggests to a repertory group of dancers he’s working with. “Enjoy your body going into the movement.”
“Enjoy your body going into the movement.”
My body relaxes just saying it to myself.
Tense, self-conscious, perfection or technique-driven movement didn’t work for the Tin Man and it doesn’t work for us either.
Last Friday morning (2am or so) I woke up unable to roll onto my right side. My shoulder was too uncomfortable. When I got up for the day, I discovered that the range of motion in my shoulder was compromised, most noticeably by pain. By Sunday I had almost zero internal and external rotation and little extension. I have no idea what I did to piss off my shoulder. I went on to teach 2 classes in a sling and planned to not only visit my favorite Feldenkrais practitioner, Julie Francis, but to also consult an sports medicine specialist. For 2 days I protected my shoulder, adjusting my normal body flow to accommodate my new restrictions. Ice. Heat. Ibuprophen. Arnica oil. No relief.
As I was getting into the shower after class, Monday I noticed just how hard I had been holding myself. Getting in and out of shirts and exercise tops was practically a tear-jerker. I took a breath and drew the exhale throughout my body, with particular attention to releasing in my shoulder. Immediately it hung more comfortably. Another couple of breaths and conscious releasing exhales and the shirt came off with less pain. I taught Tuesdays class without the sling, relinquishing level 3 workout intensity for level 3 consciousness. By Wednesday morning I was again able to hook my bra like a big girl!
I still don’t know what I did, but the two experiences brought me around to considering how easy it is to be aware of what is challenging. Often our activity can be so difficult that we cannot be anywhere else. If we’re injured in such a situation, we’ll probably remember what we did, to tell the doctor. It’s the rest of the time that I’m getting to.
How many times have you heard someone tell you, in embarrassment, that they hurt their back getting out of the tub, or getting out of the car? How about getting out of bed? These are the movements we go through without thinking. These actions are a means to an end, they’re not the main event. They’re so not the main event that most of the time we don’t have any memory of doing them – mmm, how did I get here?
I watched as Naharin’s advice to the dancers changed their movements from technical and detached to expressive and connected.
“Be in the movement,” applies to everyone. Hindsight only helps in the case of accidents involving things like planes, trains and automobiles. If we weren’t paying attention otherwise, we won’t have anything to reference in hindsight.
Credits: Out of Focus is a Heymann Brothers Production and is available for $35 through http://www.heymannbrothers.com